Cloud Computing Adoption at the Department of Labor
Published: February 28, 2013
Discussions about cloud computing in the federal IT market tend to focus on the big agencies, the ones that command large budgets and have vast requirements. Taking this perspective, however, overlooks efforts at smaller agencies to meet the Office of Management and Budget’s “Cloud First” mandate. Indeed, a close examination reveals that the U.S. Department of Labor has made considerable progress in recent years deploying cloud-based solutions. The example it has set is a worthwhile one for industry to know and for larger federal agencies to follow.
Over the last few fiscal years, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has been implementing cloud solutions in stages aligned with its overall DOL IT Infrastructure Modernization strategy. The objective of this strategy, otherwise known as DITIM, is to transform the department’s “nine major, independently funded and managed IT infrastructure silos at the sub-agency level into a unified IT infrastructure that provides … general purpose business productivity tools, a shared environment for common data sources, and the underlying hardware, software, and facilities to support it.” This goal should sound familiar. Every federal agency has stated something like it as its desired IT end-state. Yet few have gone as far as the DOL or had as much success implementing cloud solutions as part of their IT modernization strategy.
DOL Cloud Efforts: FY 2010-FY 2013
The table below includes major cloud contracts that the DOL has awarded in the last three fiscal years.
The DOL’s first step into the cloud was a modest one as the department migrated its electronic capital planning and investment control process to the Government off the Shelf (GOTS) eCPIC system provided as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution by the General Services Administration (GSA). The DOL was one of many agencies that chose eCPIC as their first venture into the cloud, demonstrating that federal agencies are inherently risk averse when it comes to using new technologies.
Labor’s first commercial investment came in 2010 with the award of a $4.3 million contract to Global Computer Enterprises (GCE) for the migration of DOL financial systems to the cloud. In this case the DOL appears to have chosen a private cloud SaaS solution hosted by a vendor.
DOL cloud investments picked up steam in fiscal 2011, indicating that the agency was growing increasingly comfortable with cloud-based solutions. These investments included two contract awards in September 2011, including a $6.5 million Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) to Development Infostructure for the migration and hosting of the Office of Disability Employment Services’ Disability.gov website, and a $50 million award to CGI Federal to “plan, design, configure, implement, operate, administer, and maintain a cloud computing-based Enterprise Case and Content Management System/Federal Contract Compliance System.” This latter award was consistent with a goal of the DITIM to “modernize or incorporate include email, online collaboration, document management, records management, eDiscovery, and remote access.” Here we see cloud computing used to fulfill one of the agency’s publicly stated strategic goals.
DOL continued the trend in fiscal 2012, awarding in September a $59.4 million contract to Lockheed Martin Integrated Services for the Collocation, Infrastructure, Managed Hosting and Cloud Services for the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. A second contract award was made to Concept Analysis Integration for Customer Relationship Management Product and Integration Services, but this award remains under protest at the GAO.
Most recently, the DOL awarded a $50 million contract in January 2013 to InfoReliance for Email, Collaboration, Office Automation, eDiscovery, & Records Management Services. Another competition for a Business Process Model and Notation Platform is currently underway, with the solicitation expected to be released soon.
Takeaway – In the last three fiscal years we have seen the DOL follow a normal, but accelerated, trajectory for the adoption of an emerging technology. The DOL began its move to the cloud with the use of GSA’s eCPIC system and then moved to award large contracts to commercial cloud service providers. To date the DOL has awarded cloud contracts with a total value of $170 million. These contracts have been for everything from email and records management systems to website hosting and cloud data center services.
The DOL has turned to a number of different cloud deployment types. Data was not available for every contract awarded and some of these conclusions are estimations based on available information.
Takeaway – Consistent with most agencies, DOL seems to favor the use of private commercial cloud solutions.
The DOL has also used a variety of competition types to award cloud contracts, making it difficult for vendors to predict which acquisition avenue the department might use next.
Takeaway – The DOL has used a number of contracting approaches to fulfill its cloud requirements. No consistent pattern emerges.
Service Delivery Types
Similarly, the DOL has chosen to employ different service delivery types. Like the information concerning cloud deployment types, data was not available for every contract awarded. Some of these conclusions are estimations based on available information.
Takeaway – So far, the DOL has turned to SaaS solutions far more than IaaS solutions. No contracts for Platform-as-a-Service have been awarded.
As readers can see from this brief analysis, the DOL has taken multiple steps to meet the “Cloud First” mandate. The contract dollars devoted to these efforts spiked upward in 2011 and 2012, reflecting the overall trend toward greater federal cloud adoption.
Vendors should anticipate this trend will continue across the federal government, especially as fiscal necessity forces agencies to move systems to the cloud. This is more evidence that cloud computing is where an increasing percentage of IT work will be found in the years to come.